One of my favorite bloggers, Jon Perr, describes the Washington Post’s media villager Chris Cillizza, the lead writer for the Post’s “The Fix” column (a Washington insiders barometer of “conventional wisdom”) this way: “When it comes to political commentary and analysis, the only thing worse than conventional wisdom is no wisdom at all. But each day, Washington Post writer and MSNBC regular Chris Cillizza walks that fine line between the banal and the inane.” Chris Cillizza, conventional wisdom regurgitator.
Earlier this year when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was taking to the floor of the Senate to deliver an almost daily speech to attack the Koch brothers for their “Kochtopus” dark money network undermining our electoral system and democracy, media villager Cillizza wrote this “conventional wisdom” piece. Koch Zero?:
To be precise, 52 percent of people said they didn’t know who Charles and David Koch were in a new GW Battleground poll conducted by Republican pollster Ed Goeas and Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. If you combine the 52 percent of people who didn’t know their names with the 11 percent of respondents who had no opinion about the duo, you get more than six in 10 Americans who are entirely unmoved/unaffected by the recent focus by Democrats on villainizing the Kochs.
We’ve long believed that attacks on two relatively low-profile billionaires isn’t likely to work for Democrats simply because, as this poll shows, people don’t know who the Koch brothers are. And, beyond their low name identification, the reality is that voters almost never use campaign finance or money in politics as a voting issue. Yes, in polls people will say there is too much money in politics and that it’s a bad thing. But, time and time again in actual elections they don’t vote on it.
Two quick points about his “analysis.” First, if Americans do not know who the Koch brothers are and the evil their “Kochtopus” dark money network is engaged in, it is largely due to the abject failure of our media to do investigative journalism to expose the Koch brothers and their nefarious friends.
Second, media villagers need to learn the words to One Of These Things is Not Like The Others. They are always trying to make analogous comparisons: “This election is just like (insert year here).” No, it is not. Elections are like snowflakes, every one is unique to the candidates, and the issues, and the electorate that votes in that particular election. This use of shorthand comparisons is usually meant to drive a media narrative for how these “geniuses” (sic) want the election to turn out (some dare call this propaganda).
It turns out that when voters do know who the Koch brothers are and the evil their “Kochtopus” dark money network are engaged in, it is a negative that works against them — voters do not like these Plutocrats. Harry Reid has succeeded in making their “Kochtopus” dark money network an issue in this year’s campaign.
The Koch brothers’ front group Freedom Partners abruptly canceled $1.1 million in ads in Michigan aimed to help elect Republicans last week, according to
Politico Tiger Beat on the Potomac. Koch-linked group cancels Michigan ads:
A powerfully funded group backed by the conservative Koch brothers has canceled over a million dollars’ worth of Michigan ads for the month of August, according to sources tracking the 2014 air war.
Freedom Partners, which had booked about $1.1 million in Michigan airtime, abruptly canceled the ads this week.
The state is home to a contested, open-seat Senate race between Republican Terri Lynn Land, Michigan’s former secretary of state, and Democratic Rep. Gary Peters. Koch-supported groups, led by the nonprofit Americans for Prosperity, have advertised heavily there this year.
A spokesman for Freedom Partners did not respond to an email regarding the canceled ads, which included nearly $800,000 in spending just in the costly Detroit media market.
* * *
[T]he withdrawal — at least for now — of the Koch group is striking in a state that Republicans have long yearned to capture, and where Democrats have explicitly made the Kochs’ involvement an issue in the Senate race.
Starting in February, the Democratic group Senate Majority PAC began attacking Land as an instrument of powerful and wealthy interests, airing ads featuring a photo of Charles and David Koch and warning that Land would help “the powerful at our expense.”
Eclectablog adds The Kochs may be helping elect Democrats in Michigan:
Did the brothers Koch look at the run of polls that show Mark Schauer running neck-and-neck with scandal-ridden Governor Rick Snyder or a stark assessment from the National Journal that illustrates how Senate nominee Terri Lynn Land is as bad a candidate as Republicans feared she’d be?
More likely, the Kochs realize that in the state preferred by four out of five of the Great Lakes, at least, their involvement may be doing more harm than good.
Last week, The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent looked at the internals of poll showing Democrat Gary Peters leading Land by seven points. Michiganders, it showed, view the Kochs unfavorably by a margin of two-to-one.
“While it’s true that 33 percent have not heard of them, a total of 56 percent have heard of them, which is pretty high,” Sargent wrote. “A large majority finds the anti-Koch message — that Land is beholden to big oil billionaires bankrolling her campaign — convincing.”
* * *
Peters began to pull ahead in March after ads directly connecting Land’s campaign to the Kochs began to air.
Could this strategy work nationally? Highlighting the connection between a person’s personal wealth and their policies that increase that wealth is a continuation of the Romney/Bain strategy.
It could if candidates can do what Gary Peters has done by making their opposition to the Kochs personal, it becomes sharp and effective. In his stump speech, the Rep. Peters traces the Kochs opposition to his candidacy back to an inquiry he made about the petcoke dust piles that Detroiters despise.
* * *
Some ads may have been canceled but the Kochs are in no way pulling out of Michigan. Their Americans for Prosperity front exemplifies the long-term investment they’re making in keeping purple states red, at least in non-presidential years.
However, something unique may be happening in Michigan. It’s possible that millions of dollars in ads can be made counterproductive, if voters don’t like the agenda of the Kochs who are helping purchase them.
Here in Arizona, where the “Kochtopus” has its hub of operations, it’s going to be more difficult.
The millions of dollars flooding into Arizona’s election is coming from outside spending from political action committees, independent expenditure committees, and the laughably titled “social welfare” 501(c)(4) dark money organizations. Most of this money is coming from extremely wealthy individuals who are not Arizona residents, and who do not have a vote in our election — yet these wealthy Plutocrats somehow feel entitled to decide our election for us by buying it.
You can fight back and “Krush the Kochtopus” — just say no to any candidate who is the candidate from Koch.